VIJAYAWADA: Boiled rice millers in Andhra Pradesh (AP) are in a pitiable condition at present, owing to the indifference of the government and the lack of proper mechanism to sell their produce at profitable rates.
As states like Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Bihar, Orissa and West Bengal, which used to depend on Andhra Pradesh for boiled rice, have almost become self-reliant, the only state in need of boiled rice now is Kerala.
As a result, all the boiled rice is sent to Kerala, and with supply exceeding demand, the boiled rice millers in AP are now at the mercy of Kerala rice traders.
More than the demand-supply mismatch, what is worrying the millers is that the Kerala traders do not issue C-Forms to AP boiled rice sellers. At present, 2 per cent Central Excise Tax (CST) is levied on the boiled rice sent to other states. If C-Forms are not produced, another 2 per cent will be imposed, which will put a burden on the rice millers.
“As we do not have any other market to send boiled rice to, Kerala merchants are cashing in on our weakness. When we send a consignment to Kerala, all the charges, from loading to unloading, have to be borne by us, thus making the business less profitable,” said P Veeraiah, president of the Krishna District Rice-millers Association.
He said that on several occasions, Kerala traders did not even make payments, citing various reasons.
AP boiled rice millers are so fed up with the increase in the production costs and the problems faced from Kerala traders that most of them have shut down their units.
“The production cost of boiled rice is double the cost of normal rice. But the price we get for boiled rice is less when compared to the normal rice. Also, with the market shrinking, there is no other way but to stop operation. We cannot survive in the domestic markets unless the government makes efforts to export our boiled rice which has good demand overseas,” summed up Bolla Rajeswara Rao, a boiled rice miller from Khammam.
The number of boiled rice mills in Krishna district has come down to 20-25 from about 100.
Another seven mills are up for sale, but there are no takers.